Withdrawal Bill needs to include scrutiny for any backwards steps on the environment

With all the Henry the Eighth powers, secondary legislation making powers, and judicial erasure powers that Parliament will have handed to the Government in the Withdrawal Bill and other Brexit legislation, Ministers are going to find themselves with an unprecedented ability to rewrite enormous aspects of UK law at will. The Commons will be effectively by-passed and the Lords may feel compelled to wave it all through, as happens with almost every piece of secondary legislation. For this reason, it is so important that we put a backstop into law now, to protect environmental, food safety and animal welfare standards.

The government says that they want to improve these standards, and not reduce them. That’s fine – I’ll support anything that improves standards. But if Ministers are truly committed to not reducing standards then why not include a guarantee in the legislation itself?

In the absence of an Environment Bill or the promised Environmental Enforcement Body, then we need a minimum level of protection for our existing standards. Any measure that will have the effect of weakening our environmental protections must face the full scrutiny of Parliament and not be snuck through in secondary legislation.